Monday, June 18, 2012

A Most Exciting Performance with a Most Disappointing Result

My travel to Wichita, KS, went quite smoothly, and though I definitely was tired and stiff during a Sunday afternoon practice round, I was feeling good heading into the Monday Qualifier. The qualifier was at a course called Auburn Hills, and it is a very good and pretty demanding layout. With 25-35 mph winds blowing all day, the course was flat out difficult on the day of the qualifier.

As I warmed up in the heavy winds on Monday morning, I felt good and just knew that I was going to have a good day. Then the first hole happened. I hit two good shots to set up a decent look at birdie on the opening hole (definitely one of the easiest on the course) and then proceeded to let the wind mess with my head (my fault, not the wind's) on the green as I three putted from just 25 feet for a bogey. Then the second hole happened. Hitting straight into the wind on the medium length par-4, I mishit my drive quite a bit, but got it going down the fairway. I knew that I hadn't hit the ball solidly, but I was unpleasantly surprised to find that I needed to hit a three wood into the green for my second shot. Standing over my second shot into the second hole with a three wood in my hand, I thought for a split second that I might not be able to break 80 given the conditions. I backed off of the shot when that thought crossed my mind and really committed myself to playing one shot at a time and having a smart plan for each and every shot. I went on to par number two and then played some really great golf the rest of the day. I made a lot of pars and hovered around even par for the day through 11 holes. A bogey at the par-3 12th moved me to one over par, but I was determined to stick with my plan. Great birdies at holes 13 and 14 got me to one under par, and I stayed there with pars on 15, 16, and 17. The eighteenth hole is a long par 5 that features a fairly tight fairway for the tee shot and a very difficult and water-guarded green. I smoked a drive right down the middle of the fairway, and then hit one of the most courageous shots I can remember for my second. With water protecting the right side and front of the green and a very strong wind coming off of my right, I aimed my second shot 10 yards into the pond and hit a perfect shot with my hybrid club that rode the wind to the left and finished just short and left of the green in the fairway. From there, I hit a perfect chip to a difficult back right hole location and rolled my four-foot birdie putt right in the middle of the hole. I was in incredibly proud of the shots that I hit on the 18th hole, and was quite pleased overall with my round. I ended the day with a two-under-par 70.

Apparently some players handled the wind a bit better than I did. I was pumped with my score and felt like it was good enough to qualify, but I ended up in a six man playoff for two spots in the tournament field. I failed to birdie the par-4 first in the playoff, and two of my fellow competitors did make birdies, so my Monday Qualifier ended in disappointment. I'm a bit in shock honestly, but I'm still very proud of the performance that I put forward. Despite being a bit shaky early, all areas of my game seemed to be working nicely down the stretch. That is great news, and I can't wait to build on that.

I don't have to wait too long. Next week the Nationwide Tour is having an event in Evansville, Indiana, and I will be playing in the Monday Qualifier for it as well. For now, though, I need to focus on having a good week of practice. Last week during the Egolf event, I had one of my most efficient and productive weeks of practice that I can remember. I finished every single one of my tournament-week process goals last week, and I am going to get after the non-tournament-week list in the next few days. I will get them done this week. My game is in good shape, but it is just going to keep improving.

Thank you for following! Keep it here for practice reports and a look at what is coming up next!

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